Very important: when you make an appointment to tune up your piano take in consideration that silence is needed to perform the job. People talking, TV's, radios, machines working or any other source of noise will make the process harder or even impossible.
Tuning is the most basic kind of piano maintenance, that means adjusting the tension of each of the more than two hundred piano strings, using a tuning hammer (or lever) to turn the tuning pins in order to make each string produce the exact sound we need. Tuning is only the operation defined above, and does not include repairs and adjustments.
The most important factor causing pianos to go out of tune is the change in humidity and temperature, affecting all pianos, good and bad, new and old, played and un-played.Although all pianos go out of tune, some of the cheaper spinets or very old pianos have weak structures that actually twist slightly from season to season or even while the pianos are being tuned, or weak tuning pins that do not hold the tension of the strings. These pianos go out of tune chaotically, in addition to showing large seasonal variations in pitch.
How often you have the piano tuned will depend on the piano quality, the changes in humidity and temperature and also on your ear and on your budget, but it should be a minimum of every year and ideally every six months.
Action parts need periodic adjustment to compensate for wear and changes in atmospheric conditions. Making these adjustments is called regulating. Most new and rebuilt pianos will need to be regulated to some extent within six months to a year of purchase because of initial settling of cloth parts. Thereafter, frequency of regulation will depend on the amount of use. A piano in the home played an hour a day might need a full regulation only once every five to ten years, whereas one played all day by a professional might benefit by a full regulation every year.
Dust inevitably collects inside a piano no matter what and, some times, it doesn’t let the moving parts to work freely. When a technician removes the outer case parts, during regular servicing, it's a good time to dust some of their less accessible spots.
Cleaning the piano action and under the keys on both verticals and grands, should be left to a piano technician. In most cases, once every few years will be often enough.